September 11, 2001. Five thirty in the morning. I had just begun my 12 hour shift as a police officer in a small suburb of Los Angeles County. As I did every morning, I was listening to a morning talk show when the horrific events of that day began to unfold. At first I was stunned, then angry, then frustrated. As a police officer 2500 miles away, there was nothing I could do for the innocent people killed by a group of cowardly dogs. May those responsible rest in their own eternal hell. As that morning progressed, flights were being cancelled, and those in the air were being grounded to local airports. The city where I worked was directly under the flight path for LAX. Time seemed to stand still; there were no radio calls for service, no radio banter between officers, no administrative direction. Larger departments were going on tactical alert. I finally asked supervisors what are we doing. I'll never forget the response, "It's business as usual". The impact of that day has never left me, and the anger and frustration inside rarely subsides.
Eleven years later I am retired, but still work part-time as a police officer for a small community college in Orange County, California. Every year our college has a 911 Memorial Service attended by local police and fire chiefs, the Orange County Sheriff, and other dignitaries. This year our chief was the event coordinator, and wanted two color guard units, one inside and one on mounted horseback outside. I was told to "make the mounted unit happen". And, he said, I want Flash to be part of the color guard. Well, Flash and I have never done a color guard deployment. I had a few contacts, and Anaheim PD agreed to assist with their mounted unit, (which has been in Presidential Inaugurations, and will be in the 2013 Rose Parade). Their event coordinator was fantastic and said we could ride with them and carry one of the flags. Flash was thrilled; me, worried about what to wear, proper equipment for Flash and so on. I was basically a basket case. Well, I purchased a police breast collar for Flash, a saddle pad with our PD patches on the sides, a yellow bib ascot, and a black felt cavalry hat, (which Annette said she didn't want to know about because she wanted me to wear a helmet). It was a "one time look".
Tuesday arrived and I was up at five getting every thing ready, Flash washed and fed, the trailer and truck washed, (a Brett thing), and hooked up. We had to be on the road before eight because the roads in our community were going to be close for resurfacing. I was nervous, hoping the parking lot was closed for us to park, that Flash would be good standing in the middle of a community college at noon time, that Anaheim PD would be on time. I wanted everything perfect.
On the way down I was listening to the same talk show station that I was listening to on September 11, 2001. They replayed a six minute excerpt from that eventful day. It brought a fresh flow of tears to my eyes; and suddenly my concerns and nervousness seemed so miniscule to those innocent victims and families who suffered so much. May peace be with them forever, and may they be honored for eternity.
The horses and the ceremony were perfect. Thank you Flash for taking care of this old sentimental soul.
|Just two of us. We had just put the flags off to the side because of the wind and the inside ceremony had just started.|